The Greek War of Independence actually began a few days earlier than its official declaration, with the liberation of Kalamata on March 23, 1821.
The uprising in Mani had begun in the first days of March, with Maniots and other Morias (Peloponnese) rebels taking up arms.
In mid-March, a ship loaded with ammunition, sent by Filiki Eteria from Smyrna to aid the Greek War of Independence, arrived at the port of Almyros, outside Kalamata.
The Ottoman authorities of Kalamata somehow found out about the arrival of a cargo and asked the city’s elite what the contents were — and why it was accompanied by armed men.
The reply was that the cargo was olive oil and the men who accompanied it were villagers who were armed for fear of robbers.
The army chief of Kalamata, Suleiman aga Arnaoutoglou, was convinced and asked for the help of the people of Mani, who sent 150 men, under Ilias Mavromichalis, on March 20.
On March 17, however, the nobles of Mani, under the leadership of Petrobey Mavromichalis, had raised the flag of the War of Independence in Tsimova, today’s Areopolis of Laconia.
The priest of the village then gave his oath to support the Revolution and blessed the weapons of the captains and their men in Taxiarchon Church. So it came to be that the unruly Maniots started the Revolution, eight days before its formal beginning.
Immediately afterward, Kyriakoulis Mavromichalis started out for Mistras and Monemvasia, and Petrobey Mavromichalis with Theodoros Kolokotronis and 2,000 men moved toward Kalamata.
Meanwhile, at the other end of Morias, the first revolutionary action of the War of Independence was marked with the siege of Kalavryta on March 21.
The taking of Kalamata launches the War of Independence
The Maniots and other rebels arrived outside Kalamata on March 22 and positioned themselves in the surrounding hills, leaving no way out for the Turkish troops.
It was only then that the Aga of the city understood what was happening. However, it was too late to escape to Tripolitsa, the Morias capital that had a substantial Ottoman garrison.
With the city completely surrounded, Aga Arnatoutoglou decided to defend the city with the Ottoman citizens. But it was a futile effort.
When the revolutionaries entered Kalamata on the morning of March 23, 1821, Ilias Mavromichalis asked Arnaoutoglou to surrender, emphasizing the futility of his effort.
The Aga had no choice but to hand over the city and all the Turkish armaments to the revolutionaries, according to protocol.
At noon, in front of the church of Agioi Apostoloi and in a festive atmosphere, the priests blessed the flags of revolution and the fighters swore allegiance to the great cause.
A meeting followed in which the chiefs decided to set up a revolutionary committee, which they named the “Messenian Senate,” to better coordinate the War of Independence.
The Messenian Senate leadership was assigned to Petrobey Mavromichalis, who bore the title of “General of the Spartan and Messenian Army.”